Sunday, June 26, 2011

Leaving Minneapolis Again.

I stumbled off the Light Rail onto Lake Street sometime after my flight from Dar Es Salam. I had on a beach dress and some beaded sandals, and a woman suggested that I put on socks. I was still in East Africa, toe nails drenched in a deep orange henna. Zanzibar sand had crept into my backpack, and kinyarwandan phrases were attacking my American English. A man on the Light Rail stared at my oversized backpack. "Hope you don't topple over girl! It's cold today." I met Minneapolis with an unsure smile. The air stung my skin, even after changing into jeans and a t-shirt. My friends were celebrating, because it was April, and they hadn't come into contact with this much heat since October.

The first night, I went to the 2011 Voltage fashion show. I took a taxi, and the driver asked me if we could go back to the coast together. He had a brother living in Dar. It seemed like a possibility. I got out, tipped him, and bought a ticket to the show.

Raul, who serves as both a third or fourth mother to me and a dear friend, was sewing for weeks to finish his Spring line for the show. I appreciate the gay spectacle that fashion provokes. It was also nice to see the productive side of Raul, in addition to the Raul that spends too much time watching Mexican telenovelas in bed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Southern Tour: Jackson, Natchez, NOLA, Bham, Manchester

Back in the South. Right now, I'm sitting in my apartment in downtown Birmingham. The city is silent. Pedestrian-less at 10:49 pm. It's a Friday night, and I can't shake the coffee in my blood. The train just howled. The trains barrel past me everyday during my seven o'clock jogs. There is a new park that I love to talk about, Railroad Park. It's freshly manicured sporting baby trees and sprinklers. And if you dare walk to the park in the late night, you will hear a guard shout, "park's closed." This park is patrolled at all hours of the night and day. Security cameras and golf carts chase away hobos and hooligans. I love to do push-ups in the evening after a jog. I met a medic in the park just yesterday. She was quiet, but she wasn't shy. She had muscular arms and a half-smile. "It is what it is," she told me. That's how I feel about Birmingham. I could go on about how hot it gets at 2 in the afternoon, or the fact that the bus stops are as well thought out as my plans for this morning. This morning I planned on visiting a farm to trade labor for some vegetables. The rain stormed in on the city, a much welcomed surprise. A friend and I decided to meet for coffee and Mexican food. The spinach burrito. Corn chips. Watery Salsa. Watery Margarita. We laughed and told stories. We were interrupted by a woman that appreciated our banter so much that she waltzed over to the booth and said, "If y'all had any more fun, you'd be arrested for it." Immediately, a woman in the booth behind us turned around and said, "I love the South because people just say whatever they want to say." Now, as this excited us, we decided that we couldn't end our fun, and decided to go to the movies. Not only did we get free popcorn, we arrived right on time for the afternoon showing of a new comedy. The chairs were very comfortable. After laughing in a comfortable chair for over an hour, I felt a new sensation. I couldn't believe all of the amenities offered in one morning. I felt like a winner on the Price is Right. A showcase winner. This is Birmingham, my birmingham. my beautiful birmingham. my boisterous birm. my heavenly ham. my intelligent ing. my bir ming and ham. Bir, Ming, and Ham. A thirtieth century Bible story. Three siblings that wanted to kill eachother, but were inspired by the teachings of Raul, a tailor. They changed their ways and decided to drink lemonade together.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blog Forgotten...found one year later

I am in Pretoria, South Africa. Afrika Hepfo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

-30 Degree Windchill

I've just returned from London to find much information I had been lacking for the last year about my next step in life: Peace Corps in Rwanda.

I tried to keep it a secret that I was lacking major details of my trip.

"So what is your plan exactly once you've reached DC?"

"Ah, yes, good question, We are staying 100 kilometers outside of Kigali in a village called (make something up), and yes, I have a host family, and maybe I will get a pet such as a silverback gorilla, not sure... need to check in with the officials. Tell you what mom, I'll call you later tonight for another Q and A session, but I can't promise anymore A's."

Sometimes I just get out an old National Geographic and tear out a picture of "Africa" and tell people to go to Wikipedia with any other questions.

As I have read in others' blogs, there is a varying response from the people of the West in regards to Africa. So before I ask someone their opinion I give them a small written quiz:

1. What's your favorite country in Africa? and Why?

2. Have you ever taken an African Dance Class? What was your favorite move?

After I read these quiz results, I score them and walk away.

In all honesty, I am a very uninformed lady who has much to learn in the next few months, years, decades, etc.

To the good stuff:

I was elated when I found out that I would be staying among sisters in the Benebikira training center with other Peace Corps Volunteers. It's actually quite funny because I trained to become a foreclosure counselor in a convent in Chicago for a week. Coincidence?

Oh and as for packing: I saved the turkey sandwich from my flight last night. That will be my "luxury" item.

I'm going to Saver's today to find a few shirts that may be less wintrified than my own, although I read that a volunteer gets freezing in Uganda. I'm not sure how to measure -30's against 50's.

As for today, I had strong coffee, read some facebook facts, reviewed my welcome book, and screamed a few times in excitement.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

In Preparation

I've been contemplating the steps to the journey I am preparing to begin:

1. Leaving: I must leave beloved Minneapolis and St. Paul. The community here is absolutely amazing. Although the weather is at times brutally cold, there is a protective warmth that comes directly from the willpower of the Minnesotan people. I have already witnessed my own going away party with sadness but more so excitement. I left my employment, my co-workers, rented out my apartment, sold and given away most of my belongings, and now I am in transit.

2. Traveling: I am going to celebrate the winter holiday with my family in Wisconsin. My best friend Carrie is visiting on the 25th from Alabama. I will say goodbye to my sister, who will return to Birmingham. I am flying to London to say hello and goodbye to my friends Ben and Will, which was planned before my invitation to Rwanda. I will then have a week in Philadelphia to say hello to a dear friend Liz. Then I will ground myself for ten days in Wisconsin to fly to Rwanda. I will fly there perhaps with tears in my eyes. I am very excited for this change.

3. Studying: I've always been a procrastinator, but I have been doing Rosetta Stone to touch up on my French vocab here and there, and reading books on HIV and Sub-Saharan Africa. I was able to take two classes on HIV and education. Those were helpful.

4. Relaxing: The most important step of saying goodbye is just experiencing the feelings of leaving, and relaxing. This has involved having a beer with close friends, eating great food, singing, writing, crying, laughing, hugging, and of course accidentally meeting new companions in the process.